The Cape Verdeans are a very spiritual people. About 80% of the population is Catholic, 10% are Protestants, and the rest belong to smaller denominations.
Yet, the Catholicism practiced on auf the islands is something special: There are many African customs that are still part of the Catholic ceremonies to this day. For example, a very touching African ritual is found at the funeral of infants: In place of their parents, a group of children accompany them when they are laid to rest. This is due to the African belief that an evil spirit has taken the child and the spirit must be prevented from bringing more harm to the family when it sees it. Even the smaller denominations cannot be separated completely from the two main religions.
The Cape Verdeans attend church on Sundays and are open to Brazilian, African or other rituals on the remaining days. For example, at masses of the Brazilian Racionalismo Cristão Movement, people tell of their afflictions and fears in the temple and the evil is cast out in the fellowship. Such ceremonies are also attended by devout Catholics because the people of Cape Verde are very open and seem to follow their roots and their souls.
The group of Nazarenes should also be mentioned here. This is an especially attractive form of religion for young people due to its cosmopolitan approach. The masses feature cheerful singing.
However, the Catholic faith still plays a dominating role on the islands. The colonial power of Portugal was primarily influenced by Catholicism and the situation was anything but laicistic in the years of its rule on Cape Verde. Missionary work already began in the mid-15th century, first by the Franciscans and later by the Jesuit and Capuchin monks. From the beginning, slaves were baptized upon their arrival to obtain a higher price for them. The Roman-Catholic monopoly of the church on Cape Verde was only abandoned in 1910, which opened the door to other faiths from that time on. In 1990, Pope John Paul II visited the islands for the 500th anniversary of Catholicism on Cape Verde, despite the fact that his relationship with the Cape Verde Catholics was not always simple. After all, they are well-known for “celebrating” the Holy Mass in the truest sense of the word and are also a very cheerful people in other ways so that the Catholic Church has had occasions to object to the Creole understanding of faithfulness.